NBA Draft 2011: Can Kyrie Irving Deliver Redemption for Duke?

Ro ShiellAnalyst IJune 23, 2011

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 23:  Kyle Singler #12 of the Duke Blue Devils is congratulated by Kyrie Irving #1 after scoring during the CBE Classic championship game on November 23, 2010 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Mike Krzyzewski wrote in his book, Five-Point Play, that he had an NBA official reveal to the team that the average NBA career is three and a half years and 95 percent of players will work after their careers are over.

That was the 2001 championship team which would see five players drafted—Shane Battier in 2001 and Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Jason Williams the following year.

Chiris Duhon was a second round pick in 2004. Three were drafted in the lottery as Boozer fell to the second round as well (Dahntay Jones was a redshirt transfer who was not officially a part of the team).

Sadly, Duke players do not normally become stars in the NBA.

Dan Wiederer points out that in Coach K's 31 years at Duke he has had 33 players selected in the NBA draft, 12 in the second round. Further analyst showed that only four of these players made an all-star team—Grant Hill, Elton Brand, Christian Laettner and Carlos Boozer.

For context, consider this breakdown. Since 1992, 147 different players have played in the NBA All-Star game. The school that has had the most all-stars in the last 20 years is North Carolina, proudly able to claim seven all-stars: James Worthy, Michael Jordan, Brad Daugherty, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison.

Duke fans may reassure themselves by pointing out that Roy Williams has yet to claim an all-star for the Tar heels even though he has delivered two championships in eight years on the job. All those players listed above are from the Dean Smith era.

Had Grant Hill not suffered that career-changing ankle injury, Duke could have had a Finals MVP, and a league MVP, but that is debatable.

Same can be said about Jason Williams, the second draft pick in 2002 whose career was derailed by a motorcycle accident. Bobby Hurley suffered a similar fate in a car accident.

Brand has had his share of injuries but some poor career choices have kept him as relevant as a nuclear bomb in outer space. The power forward's redeeming light is that he is the highest draft pick in Coach K's era. He was chosen first, as a sophomore in 1999, by the rebuilding Chicago Bulls.

Kyrie Irving has a very good chance of joining Brand as a Duke No. 1 pick tonight if Cleveland does the obvious and take him as the first pick in the 2011 NBA draft over Derrick Williams.

Irving, who has been compared favorably to Chris Paul, has an uphill battle to be an all-star if he goes to the Cavaliers.

He will be competing with triple double king Rajon Rondo, league MVP Derrick Rose, perennial all-star Deron Williams and John Wall, who are all in the Eastern Conference.

Not a great outlook, and playing for Cleveland could be considered a debilitating factor.

However, if the Duke freshman can help turn Cleveland around, in the wake of LeBron James’s Decision, he will raise the Duke name to lofty positions within NBA circles.

There is no immediate explanation for Duke players flaming out in the NBA except that Coach K is a great coach with a great system.

Either way, expect the quality of players Duke sends to the NBA to improve as Coach K has started recruiting elite or 5-star recruits.

After Brand and a few other underclass men left for the NBA in 1999 Coach K recruited kids that were more likely to hang around for four years. Hence staying away from players with great NBA potential.

Austin Rivers, the No. 2 ranked recruit in the class of 2011 will be a freshman at Duke next season and Duke is currently recruiting Andre Drummond, the top recruit in next year's class.

The same can be said for Roy Williams as Harrison Barnes, James McAdoo, P J Hairston and Kendall Marshall each have bright NBA futures.

At least these two ACC powerhouses should give the SEC some stiff competition. In the last two years, the SEC has sent some serious contenders to the NBA, including two potential perennial all-stars from one school.

That same school will have four 5-star recruits at their disposal for next year, and may set a record for lottery players drafted from one school. Yes, it's Kentucky.

Duke has two other players in this draft, Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler, who are both NCAA champions.

For more 2011 NBA draft coverage, stay tuned to Bleacher Report for updated NBA mock drafts, B/R's Big Board of Recruits, NBA draft rumors, NBA draft results and draft grades.